• Fetal echocardiography;
  • Great vessels;
  • Prenatal diagnosis;
  • Ultrasound



Comprehensive evaluation of the fetal heart has become a major part of targeted organ scanning to rule out fetal malformations. Evaluation of the mediastinal major vessels seems to be the most difficult and time-consuming part of fetal heart examination. Our aim was to define and evaluate the three vessels and trachea (3VT) view, a novel and simple method to examine the great vessels in the mediastinum, and its applicability in the clinical practice of fetal echocardiography, while establishing nomograms for cardiac vessel measurements obtained in this view.


The three vessels and trachea view was examined in 379 low-risk gravidae between 14+0 and 23+6 weeks' gestation. Six parameters in this plane were measured to establish nomograms. In another group of 984 mixed high- and low-risk patients we compared the time required to identify the aortic arch using the 3VT view as compared to the long-axis view.


The 3VT view was readily and satisfactorily demonstrated in all but two of the 1363 cases examined. In 17 cases (out of a total of 982) more than 10 min were required to identify the aortic arch using the 3VT view and in 71 patients when employing the long-axis view (P < 0.001).


The clinical applicability of the 3VT view to evaluate the anatomy of the major vessels in the mediastinum is demonstrated. Although a wide variation in the six parameters of the 3VT view used here precludes their use in diagnosing great vessel anomalies, some of the ratios between them have promising potential in the evaluation of great vessel malformations. Further, the 3VT view seems to be more efficient in identifying the aortic arch than does the long-axis view. Copyright © 2002 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology